Greetings to the People of Europe!
Translation by Chris Beckett, Alemu Tebeje
Over land and sea, your fathers came to Africa
and unpacked bibles by the thousand,
filling our ancestors with words of love:
if someone slaps your right cheek,
let him slap your left cheek too!
if someone takes your coat,
let him have your trousers too!
Now we, their children’s children,
inheriting the words your fathers left behind,
our bodies slapped and stripped
by our lifetime presidents,
are braving seas and leaky boats,
cold waves of fear –
let salt winds punch our faces and your coast-guards
pluck us from the water like oily birds!
but here we are at last to knock at your front door,
hoping against hope that you remember
all the lovely words your fathers preached to ours.
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